According to the 2010 Global report on child labor prepared by the International Labour Organization (ILO), an estimated 215 million children globally are involved in child labor and half of them indulge in its worst forms. Most child workers (60 percent) work in agriculture, with only one in five working children in paid employment; the overwhelming majority are unpaid.
So how does this affect me? These children were born into poverty – an issue too big for any of us to have a real impact on. They are in far away countries, and it’s tradition for them, right?
Wrong. Child labor is a problem in our own backyard. Child labor is happening right now in our country, our state and even in our small towns. There are as many as 500,000 children working on American farms every year, exposing themselves to the dangers of heat stress, pesticide poisoning and heavy machinery. There are advocates, such as filmmaker U. Roberto Romano, documenting child labor in America and sharing it with the public to inspire a movement against child labor. Our very own Children in the Fields Campaign has been working with farmworker children in North Carolina and Texas to end the cycle of poverty their families have been trapped in through education, leadership development and civic engagement.
But is this enough? The reality is no. Although advocates and governments are making strides in protecting children through improved policies, educational programs and movement-building, we need more people, just like you, to get involved. And what a better day than today to do your part! Today is World Day Against Child Labor, a day in which not only advocates, but every day people stand together against child labor and the exploitation of children.
Host a screening of great films like “The Harvest/La Cosecha” and “Harvest of Dignity” in your home and discuss child labor around dinner. Next time you’re at the farmers market, ask your local farmer if they employ children on their farms, and inform them of the detrimental effects farm work can have on a child. Or you can also join our online campaign on Twitter and Facebook. We will be sharing reasons why advocates and supporters stand against child labor. What’s your reason?